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Journal of Trauma and Acute Care Surgery:
doi: 10.1097/TA.0b013e31825570d3
Original Articles

Defining acute aortic syndrome after trauma: Are Abbreviated Injury Scale codes a useful surrogate descriptor?

Leach, R. BEng, BMedSci; McNally, Donal PhD; Bashir, Mohamad MRCS; Sastry, Priya MRCS; Cuerden, Richard BEng (Hons); Richens, David FRCS; Field, Mark FRCS, DPhil

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BACKGROUND: The severity and location of injuries resulting from vehicular collisions are normally recorded in Abbreviated Injury Scale (AIS) code; we propose a system to link AIS code to a description of acute aortic syndrome (AAS), thus allowing the hypothesis that aortic injury is progressive with collision kinematics to be tested.

METHODS: Standard AIS codes were matched with a clinical description of AAS. A total of 199 collisions that resulted in aortic injury were extracted from a national automotive collision database and the outcomes mapped onto AAS descriptions. The severity of aortic injury (AIS severity score) and stage of AAS progression were compared with collision kinematics and occupant demographics. Post hoc power analyses were used to estimate maximum effect size.

RESULTS: The general demographic distribution of the sample represented that of the UK population in regard to sex and age. No significant relationship was observed between estimated test speed, collision direction, occupant location or seat belt use and clinical progression of aortic injury (once initiated). Power analysis confirmed that a suitable sample size was used to observe a medium effect in most of the cases. Similarly, no association was observed between injury severity and collision kinematics.

CONCLUSION: There is sufficient information on AIS severity and location codes to map onto the clinical AAS spectrum. It was not possible, with this data set, to consider the influence of collision kinematics on aortic injury initiation. However, it was demonstrated that after initiation, further progression along the AAS pathway was not influenced by collision kinematics. This might be because the injury is not progressive, because the vehicle kinematics studied do not fully represent the kinematics of the occupants, or because an unknown factor, such as stage of cardiac cycle, dominates.

LEVEL OF EVIDENCE: Epidemiologic/prognostic study, level IV.

© 2012 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.

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